In case you didn’t know


We’ve posted plenty about Garden Walk Buffalo, the free tour
of 300-plus urban gardens that takes place every year at the end of July—in
fact, we were afraid you were sick of hearing about it (don’t answer that!). Be
that as it may, I must take keyboard in hand to at least mention how Garden
Walk has grown—in both size and notoriety. 

There has been national press about the event for the last few years. And starting in 2010, GWB is now a 5-week festival. There is an
open garden program where private gardens are open weekly throughout the day
(so one need not wait for the crowds of Garden Walk to see them), a block-long
front garden makeover contest, speakers, seminars, symposia, and, of course,
all 19 of Western New York’s garden walks. Our garden bloggers' get-together is also part of the festival, though it is not really a public part. As you know, this was held in Chicago last year, and in Austin the year before.

The festival is happening now—the kick-off was June 17. Yesterday, a
day-long seminar featured author Stephanie Cohen, among others. I had a good
chat with Stephanie (she's a riot!) and will be posting that interview Tuesday. My garden is
one of the open gardens, so it will be interesting to see who wanders in and
out on any given Thursday. And I can’t wait to see the makeovers get
started—they are all front gardens across the street from one of our Olmsted

I am sure it may be funny for many of you to think of Buffalo as
a garden mecca. Go figure. But more than that, this is an example of how a community can take gardening and turn it into a really big deal for everybody—not just us gardeners. 

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Every time I tell someone I am going to a garden blogger’s meet-up in Buffalo they ask why. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve referred to the Garden Walk Buffalo website. “Short season” seems to be the overwhelming response. Like we have a really long one in CT!

  2. Don’t worry, E. No one who’s seen the gardens of Buffalo – or your gardening spirit! – would ever tire of hearing about your Walk, now morphed into a 5-week event. You guys are awesome.

    Can’t wait for the big Buffa10 event coming up in less than 3 weeks.

  3. I don’t get that short season in Buffalo bit. I’m here. The season is basically the same as the rest of the northeast. Being on Lake Erie, our temperatures are tempered by the lake further into the fall than other cities (we’re a cold zone 6 — I’ve a couple zone 7 plants that overwinter). Our growing season is not different from Cleveland’s Pittsburgh’s or Rochester’s. We’re not in the remote tundra, we’re an hour-and-a-half SOUTH of Toronto for god’s sake! And Toronto and Southern Ontario have spectacular gardens.

  4. Hey, I never get tired or hearing about gardens or gardening; It has seemed to me for some time that the US is prime for/already entering a period where our gardening sophistication will/is increasing significantly. It feels, here in DC, as though the Pacific northwest and some nebulous area around Philadelphia are the centers from which US garden culture is radiating…still North Carolina, California, Buffalo?, DC, et alia seem to be gaining in sophistication and that can only be a good thing.

  5. I attended my first Buffalo Garden Walk last summer and was astounded, amazed and positively gleeful!. I’m not sure if I’m going again this year because of time issues, but I really want to. For me, one of the best things about this event is that the gardens are small backyard and frontyard areas. What these marvelous gardeners are doing with their spaces is something that IS attainable by anyone who is willing to put in the time. You don’t have to live on a couple acres and have a professional gardener with a full staff to achieve what these Buffalo gardeners have done. The gardeners, and the people responsible for organizing all of this, are inspirations for us all.

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